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Old 08-11-2019, 02:40 PM   #1
janwick
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Efflorescence, grout and shower base construction

It all started when calcium/efflorescence/white deposits formed mainly on the grout lines of our slate shower floor. We contacted a number of grout repair and cleaning companies and have gotten several recommendations. We have also been told that there could be a problem with our shower base, and that is causing the efflorescence. In short, we are confused.

Does our shower base look like it could constructed improperly (see photos)? We are concerned that the water is sitting underneath the tiles and causing the efflorescence. I remember that underneath the cement, there is a liner, orange I think, but as you can see in the photos, it doesn’t go above the cement. The walls are painted with Mapei Aquasense. Is there a way we can check to see if the drain is installed properly, and the water is draining from under the tile as it should?

What should be used around the perimeter floor? Epoxy grout or caulk? Does it make sense to use epoxy grout on the perimeter if we leave the regular grout on the rest of the floor and seal it?

Does it make sense to regrout the entire shower floor with epoxy grout? Would this be a good way to waterproof if the base is compromised?

Thanks.

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Old 08-11-2019, 05:15 PM   #2
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You can't tell how high the pan liner goes up the wall because it's behind the cement board. It should go 3 inches above the height of the curb.

It's possible that he didn't make a cement preslope under the pan liner. If that's the case, water wouldn't be able to make it to the weep holes in the drain. That, and it's also possible that the weep holes are clogged with mud causing the mud bed to stay saturated. Another thing we see a lot is the mud bed made out of wet concrete. It's too hard and dense and doesn't allow water to flow thru the mud bed and to the weep holes. So, there's several things that could be the problem.

You could start by buying a test ball and plugging the drain then flood test it for 24 hours. Fill the shower within 1 inch of the top of the curb.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:22 PM   #3
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That's so sad. That floor looks terrible. I hope you solve this mystery.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:58 AM   #4
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Thanks, Davy. It's a good point that the liner could be hidden by the cement board,

If we do the test and find that there could be a problem with the base, what could we do next? Can any of the things you mentioned be solved without tearing out the floor? Do you think there are other less extreme ways to address the problem?
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:04 AM   #5
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I know, Teddy. We have been told the efflorescence can be cleaned off, and the stone still looks undamaged. We don't know if there's a way to keep the efflorescence at bay, and since we have had different opinions, we continue to look for answers.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:57 AM   #6
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Don't know enough about the drain or base but it is safe to say the floor is holding water for some reason. As long as it does the problem will not go away.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:34 AM   #7
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Dave, it certainly seems like that could be the case, but what can we do about it, short of ripping it all out and starting over?

We've gotten basically three recommendations:

1. re-grouting the floor and perimeter with epoxy grout,
2. repairing the grout and sealing the tiles and grout, and caulking around the perimeter,
3. repairing and sealing as in #2, but using epoxy grout around the perimeter.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:12 PM   #8
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None of those 3 will work long term. You can try to remove 12-15 tiles and mud around the drain and see if the weepholes are clogged. Then patch it back.

If he made very hard, dense mud, opening the weepholes probably won't help much. If there's no preslope under the liner, it'll still hold water but might drain better, depending if the mud is porous enough for it to flow.

That's a lot of "ifs"
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:26 AM   #9
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Davy, thank you for your thoughtful replies. Based on the way he poured the mud in, covering the drain makes me think that we could have a case of wet mud use.

It looks like we have some digging to do.
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